spring garden 22

Buying from local, small shops is a reliable option for plant longevity. Purchasing plants at commercial home retailers can lead to greater risk of rot root.

 

Bright greens and florals outline the city this week as spring wakes up the natural plant life. If you’re looking for a way to keep this vibrant look with you all year-round, here are a few helpful tips to spruce up your living space with plants this spring. 

Do Your Research

Five-dollar ferns from Trader Joe’s may be a tempting spur-of-the-moment buy, but don’t rush when picking your plants. Take some time to do your research on the types of plants that would best fit your environment. These will generally depend on the amount of space and sun in your area.

There are five general categories for lighting that can be found in plant descriptions: bright direct light, bright indirect light, medium light, low light and no light. Essentially, the greater number of hours that the sun shines directly into a window, the greater the light intensity is, with south-facing windows generally receiving the most and north receiving the least. Though some plants may be hardy enough to survive with a few hours of sun, it is good to find plants that will thrive in the given environment.

For spaces with lots of bright, indirect sunlight, some great starting plants are aloe vera, jade plants and snake plants. For those with low-light windows, I would recommend starting with a pothos or philodendron. 

Growing Herbs Indoors 

Few things top fresh garden-grown herbs. Luckily, they are exceptionally easy to maintain. Herb boxes will look, smell and taste wonderful indoors. A few great starter herbs include mint, basil, rosemary and thyme.

Most herbs will require bright direct light indoors. If your space does not have a lot of direct sunlight, there are still options, including fluorescent grow lights and all-in-one planters can aid plant growth.

You will likely need to re-pot herbs from their store containers. Make sure that there are holes for drainage at the bottom so that they can breathe. Additionally, make sure that they can receive proper air circulation which can be achieved with a fan (not blowing directly at your plants) and a high level of humidity. Spraying your herbs with water a few times a week will work well. 

Purchasing Plants 

Plants can be found at nearly every grocery and garden store, although quality and price will vary. Generally speaking, cheap does not necessarily mean “bad,” although most grocery stores and commercial home retailers buy their plants in bulk from wholesalers, taking away from individualized care and opening up plants to a greater risk of root rot, pests and improper care.

Regardless of where you purchase your plants, take time to check under the leaves and in the soil for pests like aphids and whiteflies and check the bottom of plants to make sure that the roots are not poking out of the bottom. This will mean that the plant is crowded and will need re-potting.

For those wanting a professional’s eye in selecting the right plant, I recommend checking out The Plant Project and Parrish & Grove downtown. 

Immediate At-Home Care

Congratulations — you are a plant parent! Now come the first steps in ensuring your plant’s long, healthy and vibrant life.

When you initially take it home, hold off on re-potting your new plant for at least a few days. Allow it to acclimate to your home’s atmosphere first, as both will cause the plant stress.

When the time comes to re-pot, grab a soil that suits your plant as certain plants may need a specific ingredient to thrive or certain drainage in the pot. Dampen the soil well and allow the roots to spread out.

Be sure to keep a distance between new plants and old ones. Unknown pests and mold can spread within close proximity, so give the newbie some space. A hydrogen peroxide solution (two cups water, three teaspoons three percent hydrogen peroxide) can either be sprayed onto the plant or dampen the soil and it will both kill any unwanted pest or bacteria and promote root growth as it adds oxygen into the soil. 

Maintain A Routine

Watering and fertilizing will depend entirely on the type of plant you’ve picked up and it will likely be on the plant’s tag when you get it. Over and under-watering can be equally harmful, so make sure to stick to a schedule. Fertilizing will also depend on the plant and the product you choose, likely somewhere between two weeks and four months.

I recommend setting a weekly reminder or downloading a plant app to build a schedule. Apps like “Planta” will help to notify you of your plants' needs as time progresses and will let you see your plants’ growth through pictures, which can be a rewarding way to look at how far your green thumb has come.

Madeleine Reed is a staff writer.